By Sam Vanolinda
Photo courtesy of CJ Heller
Charlotte FC continues its home stand Wednesday, facing the Philadelphia Union after a frustrating 0-0 draw against DC United Saturday night.
At this point in the season, draws need to turn into wins for Charlotte to qualify for the playoffs. The team wasted some great chances versus DC, with 14 shots and two big chances, compared to DC United’s zero big chances. They could’ve picked up the three points, but now they need to produce some goals against a much tougher Philadelphia Union team.
Shot map (Sofascore.com)
Head Coach Christian Lattanzio believed Charlotte was “the better side in the first half and second half” against DC United, but the team needs to figure out how to convert this positive play from one point to three if they want to be playing in November.
Charlotte and Philadephia’s last meeting was on May 31 in Subaru Park, in which the Union squeezed out a 1-0 win due to a Kristijan Kahlina own goal.
Against DC, Lattanzio sent out a lineup with Karol Świderski playing in a creative 10 role alongside Enzo Copetti, who showed great effort and energy but did not produce much in the way of goalscoring chances.
Copetti vs DC United (Sofascore.com)
Charlotte FC was effective in finding the wide players in the previous match versus DC United, but against Philadelphia, they face talented attacking wing back Kai Wagner, who has sparked controversy within Philadelphia about their unwillingness to pay him. Lattanzio has made it clear that Brecht Dejaegere and Ben Bender will be the starting wingers when healthy in the foreseeable future, and they must be sharp tomorrow night.
Kai Wagner's vs. other fullbacks (FBRef.com)
He excels in assists and shot-creating actions for the Union, as well as defensive actions such as blocks and interceptions. One of the best fullbacks in the league.
Bender was the most used winger for Charlotte on Saturday, with seven crosses and an impressive heat map on the right side, but Wagner, who is elite on both sides of the ball, will make it harder for Bender to push into attacking positions.
Bender's heatmap vs. DC United (Sofascore.com)
Charlotte could take advantage of the Union's lack of discipline. They are tied for the league lead in red cards and have two in the last three games they have played. Charlotte FC players should show aggression in attack and draw fouls against Philadelphia’s three-at-the-back formation.
The Crown has defended very well recently against some potent offenses such as LAFC and Nashville, with Adilson Malanda and Andrew Privett the undisputed center back duo, and a rotation of Byrne, Jere Uronen, and Jaylin Lindsey in the full-back positions.
They face another test tomorrow against the likes of Argentinian striker Julián Carranza, who has 12 goals this season for the Union. If Charlotte will look to press as they have recently, then Malanda will have to be ready to deal with uneven numbers in defense. Malanda's last-ditch defending has been a major bright spot for The Crown lately and likely it will be called upon again tomorrow.
When it comes down to it, Charlotte FC needs someone on the team, especially the DP’s such as Copetti or Świderski to step up and produce some magic to make a playoff push. It is past the time for excuses and moral victories, and time for someone to step up as a leader and come up with a moment of quality to win versus Philadephia.